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BITC delivered over P5 billion investment in 2019

Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) – the country’s integrated investment promotion agency- has delivered over P5 billion worth of investment during the year 2018/19. This is according to the organization’s annual report for the year ended 31st March released this week.

Chief Executive Officer of BITC  Keletsositse Olebile says the organization has done significantly well in the first year of implementation of the 2018-2023 strategic plan as demonstrated by a remarkable performance score of 94% in the first year of the strategic operation against an excellence performance target of 80%.  “The 2018 overall performance as evaluated against the above captioned strategic focus areas, depicts an upward surge in performance compared to the previous year,” he said.

During the year BITC realized cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows of BWP3.168 billion against the cumulative target for the period of BWP1.8 billion. According to Olebile, the upward positive variance was largely attributable to a surge in the performance from the Financial Services sector.  In terms of Domestic Investment, cumulative inflows and expansions for the year was BWP2.273 billion against the set consolidated target of BWP1.9 billion.

In the quest to continue facilitating export of Botswana products and services to diversified markets, BITC registered exporting businesses realized  a total of BWP2.628 billion in export earnings in the year under review against a target of BWP2.676 billion. The 1.7% adverse variance is attributed to the subdued global economic environment.

“We are however pleased to report that the 2018/19 financial year saw first sales into diversified markets of two new products; organic fertilizers and scientific laboratory boards. Organic fertilizers entered for the first time into both the Zimbabwean and South African markets, while scientific laboratory boards had their first sales into Zimbabwe,” shared Olebile.

The CEO further highlighted that BITC efforts geared towards advocating for export incentives have intensified as the centre continues to encourage outward oriented investments so that they are able to attain the necessary economies of scale. The total number of jobs registered by BITC during the year under review was 3,565 against the cumulative target for the period of 3,150 jobs. Services, Agriculture and Agro- processing sectors followed by the Manufacturing sector contributed more to realizing these jobs.

“It should be noted that these verifiable figures only entail jobs created by businesses that are registered with BITC,” reiterated Olebile. 18 companies converted during the financial year from Mining, Manufacturing and Financial Services sectors. Twelve (12) companies were allocated land and two (2) were allocated factory space during the year. The Botswana One Stop Service Centre (BOSSC) processed a total of 602 Government authorizations out of which 566 were approved, 13 rejected and 23 were pending as at year end.

During the year ending 31st March 2019, BITC recorded a surplus of BWP 13 991 337, this was a decrease of 25% compared to last financial year’s restated surplus of BWP 18 585 331. This according to BITC CEO was largely contributed to successful implementation of activities planned for the year. BITC continues to rely wholly on Government funding which makes 83% of its total revenue whilst 17% is internally generated.

For the 2018/19 financial year BITC internally generated revenue stood at 17% of the total revenue, surpassing the Centre’s annual target of 15%, largely contributed by an increase in interest generated from short term investments and increased occupancy rate of factory shells.
 In the financial year ended March 2019, BITC received a total subvention of BWP 101 830 560, which was a slight increase of 1.5% from last year’s subvention of BWP 100 330 560.

According to the report, Budget utilization was optimized at 90%, slightly below prior year’s utilization of 93%, mainly because the Centre collaborated with a number of key stake holders to finance some of the initiatives and reduce the burden on BITC. “The integrated approach to undertaking marketing, promotional and branding activities resulted in cost efficiencies that resulted in the 3% reduction in the overall budget utilization. We are further evaluating opportunities to reduce costs through continuous improvements,” shared Olebile.

BITC Board Chair Victor Senye noted in the reported that some of the key highlights during the year was elevation of efforts aimed at diversification within the mining sector. BITC accredited Minergy and Maatla resources who will be mining coal for export to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) where demand for coal exceeds supply.

He said BITC continues to engage with various responsible stakeholders with a view to enhance the mining sector through sustainable value addition, noting efforts such as invitations of key players in Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) and Okavango Trading Company to missions abroad particularly where there is an appetite for gem  diamonds.

“Salient among the missions is Forum on China-Africa Coorporation (FOCAC) mission in China which was undertaken in the year under review. BITC India office also continually attracts cutting and polishing companies in India to expand to Botswana which is a source market for gem diamonds as the largest producer of gem diamonds by value in the world,” he said.

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Business

Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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